A HUG Award and One Lovely Blog Award

When I began The Eye-Dancers site, I never thought of blog awards.  In fact, I didn’t even know they existed!  I remember how surprised I was the first time I was nominated for an award.  And as I’ve been fortunate enough to be nominated for others in the months since, the feeling is always the same–grateful, touched, and humbled by all the fantastic bloggers and wonderful people in the WordPress community.  So, thanks to everyone who has visited and supported The Eye-Dancers blog!  You’re the ones who make this fun for me.

Recently, I was nominated for two new awards–The HUG Award, and One Lovely Blog Award.

I was also nominated for a Very Inspiring Blog Award by grbxxenormyn and Lipstick and Chaos.  Even though I was lucky enough to have been nominated for this award in late 2012, I wanted to thank both of these great bloggers and encourage you to check out their sites!

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Thank you so much to Tazein at the Transcending Borders Blog for nominating The Eye-Dancers site for the HUG Award!

HOPE UNITES GLOBALLY -The ‘Hug Award’

It is truly an honor receiving this nomination from Tazein, who, just as her blog title states, strives to transcend borders and cultivate peace in the world.  I highly encourage everyone to visit her wonderful website!

Following is information on the HUG Award . . .

The HUG Award© was initiated by Connie Wayne at A Hope for Today at http://ahopefortoday.com,which promotes hope, love, peace, equality, and unity for all people.

hug-award1

The HUG Award©

  • is for people with an expectant desire for the world, for which they:  Hope for Love; Hope for Freedom; Hope for Peace; Hope for Equality; Hope for Unity; Hope for Joy and Happiness;Hope for Compassion and Mercy; Hope for Faith; Hope for Wholeness and Wellness; Hope for Prosperity; Hope for Ecological Preservation; Hope for Oneness
  •  recognizes and honors those who help keep hope alive in our current world, which is plagued by war, natural disasters, and economic recession.  They nurture hope, in any of the above areas (in italics),  by the work they do, or in their personal lives with things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc.
  • is for people who, without giving up or compromising their own religious, spiritual, or political beliefs, are able to nurture hope and respect the dignity of all people. 
  • is for those who, without bias or prejudice, use their resources and gifts to make the world a better place for everyone.
  • is for people who have a hope or an expectant desire that the work or talents they use in things such as blogging, public speaking, charity work, etc., will make a positive impact on the world.

These people do not have to actively use the word “hope” in their work or creative talents.  They only need be conscious of their desire to make the world a better place for everyone.

These people use their available resources–a smile, a hug, a helping hand, a listening ear, a voice, time, money, possessions, education, personality, talent, websites and blogs—to make a positive impact on the world and make the world a better place to live.


I would like to nominate the following websites for the HUG Award.  Each of these blogs, in their own unique way, brings something worthwhile and special to the world.  I very much hope you will settle in and browse through their sites!

http://theothersideofugly.com/

http://familyeverything.wordpress.com/

http://cariwiese.wordpress.com/

http://greenlightlady.wordpress.com/

http://gorjaeous.com/

http://thekatandthefallingleaves.wordpress.com/

http://yourinnerfeathersbyruby.wordpress.com/

http://oursunshines.wordpress.com/

http://shiro51144.wordpress.com/

http://talkingexperience.wordpress.com/

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The next award is One Lovely Blog Award!  I want to thank Joseyphina for this wonderful honor!  Joseyphina has a very creative and, well, lovely, site!  It is a great feeling being nominated by her.

The rules for One Lovely Blog Award are very straightforward:  thank the blogger who nominated you and link the post to their page, and then state 7 random facts about yourself and nominate those you feel are deserving of the award.

Here are seven things about myself . . .

1. Like any true Vermonter (albeit not a Vermont native!), I enjoy pure maple syrup.  And we’re in the heart of maple sugaring season right now.  There’s nothing quite like Grade A maple syrup on pancakes or waffles.

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Also, an interesting tidbit.  Even though there are only five states smaller than Vermont, the Green Mountain State is the nation’s #1 producer of maple syrup!  Bon appetit!

mapleproduction

 

waffles

 

2. Throughout high school, I really enjoyed Math, and was under the impression that I was pretty good at it.  Then, in my Senior year, I met Calculus.  To put it mildly, it wasn’t a pleasant relationship.  I soon discovered that, whether I studied hard or not at all, either way I had absolutely no clue what I was doing!

calculus

 

3. There are so many terrifying scenes throughout movie history.  From Hitchcock to modern-day horror films and many movies in between, Hollywood likes to scare us.  But of all the scenes I’ve witnessed, nothing creeps me out more than the two ghost girls from The Shining.   In Stephen’s King novel, if memory serves, they do not appear in the hallway of the haunted Overlook Hotel.  But in Stanley Kubrick’s eerie 1980 film they do.  And Danny, the little boy with “the shining,” sees them, and knows who they are and what they represent.

“Come and play with us,” they say.  “Come and play with us, Danny.  Forever, and ever, and ever . . .”

For me, it doesn’t get any scarier than this . . .

girls

 

danny

 

4.  I am a big tennis fan, and have enjoyed the sport since I was a kid growing up in the ’80s.  But the generation of top players we have today is. arguably, the strongest group we’ve ever seen.  Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, and Rafael Nadal are incredibly gifted players, all playing at a high level simultaneously.  It makes for riveting tennis.

That said, I miss the serve-and-volleyers of decades past.  Very few players rush the net these days.  It’s a lost art, and that’s sad to see.  There is nothing more exciting on a tennis court than watching a gifted net-rusher going up against a pinpoint-accurate baseliner.  I miss the daring, attacking style of Pete Sampras, Patrick Rafter, John McEnroe, and, the best pure volleyer and greatest net player I ever saw, Stefan Edberg.

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5.  One of my favorite writers is Ray Bradbury.  I consider him the best short story writer of all time.  He enjoyed a seemingly endless well of ideas, inspiration, and enthusiasm.  He had the rare ability to make everyday events, like buying a pair of sneakers, seem magical.  Whenever I’m lacking ideas or feeling burned out, I turn to Bradbury, read a few of his gems, and almost instantly feel recharged again.

bradbury

 

6.  I was born, and grew up in, Rochester, New York.  And one thing Rochester is known for is its lilacs.  Each May, Highland Park, on the city’s south side, is host to the Lilac Festival.  There are live entertainers, tons of high-calorie foods, and all manner of activities going on. But more than anything, people come to see the lilacs.  Highland Park is home to over 1,200 lilac shrubs, and during the festival, with the flowers in bloom, it is a breathtaking sight.  (Fragrant, too!)  It’s not for nothing that my hometown is often referred to as “The Flower City.”

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lilacfest

 

lilacfun

lilacs

 

7. In a previous Awards post, I shared some of my favorite vintage comic book covers from my collection.  Here are a few more . . .

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ff72

 

sa95

 

sa2

 

hos97

 

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And now it’s time to nominate some of my fellow bloggers for One Lovely Blog Award.  I hope you’ll have a chance to explore these sites.  They’re intriguing, informative, and eclectic.  In short (something this post has most assuredly not been!), they’re great!

http://freerangecow.com/

http://fashionmayann.wordpress.com/

http://bookmust.wordpress.com/

http://catherinesherman.wordpress.com/

http://dishingitoutwithclarissa.com/

http://kelihasablog.wordpress.com/

http://tommiastablet.wordpress.com/

http://mummyshymz.wordpress.com/

http://likeitiz.wordpress.com/

http://failuretolisten.com/

http://bettysbrownies.wordpress.com/

http://laurenlfleming.wordpress.com/

http://sheslosingit.net/

http://annechia.com/

http://bringmorebooks.wordpress.com/

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Thank you again to Tazein, Joseyphina, grbxxenormyn, and Lipstick and Chaos for the nominations!

And thanks so much to everyone for reading!

–Mike

Cultivating a Left-Eye Point of View

Pause for a moment, and focus on an object–a telephone poll, a basketball hoop, a magnet on the refrigerator, the flickering flame of a candle.  It can be anything.  Look at it closely, line it up with your vision.  And point at it with your index finger.

telephone poll

 

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Now–close your left eye, while continuing to point at the object, looking at it only through your right eye.  If you are like approximately two-thirds of the population, your finger will still be pointed directly at the intended object.

Okay.  Let’s switch eyes.  Close your right eye, and open your left.  More than likely, your finger will now be pointing several inches to the right, no longer aimed at the object.  Nearly 70 percent of people are right-eye dominant–when viewing the world, their right eye is in the driver’s seat, directing the line of sight and what they focus on.  It is, in other words, a matter of perspective.

Perspective, sometimes, can become stodgy, routine, set in its ways.  Take Marc Kuslanski.  Of all the characters in The Eye-Dancers, he is the least willing to consider the universe in a new and different way.  For Marc, science and logic are the backbone of all progress, the methods for solving every problem, the vehicle by which we should view the world and consider its possibilities.  For a large portion of the novel, he is completely closed to any considerations of the supernatural, miracles, ghosts–anything that lies outside the purview of natural laws and science.  Any talk of a mysterious “ghost girl” he dismisses–he is the only one of the four main characters in the novel not to dream of her.  No matter how adamantly the others protest and claim the girl is real, Marc won’t hear of it.

His is a fixed, ironclad stance, one that he must somehow overcome before novel’s end.  Can he bend?  Can he open his mind, and look at the world through a different lens, from a different perspective?  His very survival will ultimately depend on it.

I find it’s much the same in writing–especially writing a long work such as a novel.  Before I begin, I have a direction in mind, a path I’d like to follow.  I don’t draft chapter-by-chapter outlines, but I have a fairly clear idea what I want to accomplish in a particular chapter before I sit down to write it.  At the same time, however, I always remind myself not to get too locked in, not to be so tunnel-visioned as to miss the hints and urgings of what the characters on the page are doing.

It is a remarkable and mysterious phenomenon the way characters–your own creations!–often talk to you, and tell you what to write.  In The Eye-Dancers, I never planned for Marc Kuslanski and Mitchell Brant to become friends.  When the book opens, they know each other as classmates, nothing more.  They share some of the same classes, pass each other in the halls–that’s the extent of their relationship.  Of course, I knew the events in the novel would force them to interact more.  They, along with Joe Marma and Ryan Swinton, are transported to the variant town of Colbyville and must find a way back home, after all.  They need to get past their differences and work together.  But I didn’t intend for Mitchell and Marc to have such a strong rapport.  The more they interacted, the more I realized–these two are becoming friends.  I had to listen to them.  I had to shift my perspective.  The characters demanded it.  If I had stuck rigidly to my initial plan–my right-eye-dominant point of view, if you will–a major development in The Eye-Dancers would have been lost.

It is the same with any creative endeavor.  We need to stay amenable to the unexpected, open to the accidental discovery.  Alexander Fleming did not clean up his workstation one day back in 1928.  When he later returned, he noticed that a fungus had grown on some of his cultures.  He also noticed that bacteria didn’t seem to thrive near these cultures.  From this mishap, penicillin was discovered.  But if Fleming had not been observant, if he’d been unwilling to take note of a vital clue provided in the aftermath of his own sloppiness, he may have missed the chance at medical history.

penicillin

 

Sometimes we need to actively choose to alter our perspective.  I experience this on a regular basis.  At the moment, in the uplands of central Vermont, where I live, the hills are still a patchwork of faded green and white.  The battered dirt roads are flanked on either side with mud-streaked March snow.

vtmud

And I find myself frustrated.  Will spring never arrive?  But then I pause, take a breath.  Of course it will.  In the meantime, there is still much beauty to be found in the bare simplicity of the landscape, the tang of the morning air, the song of a red-winged blackbird newly arrived from its winter migration.

vermontspring

 

redwing

 

Switching lenses, from my right eye to my left, I feel lucky to live in the Green Mountain State, even in March.  Looking at the hills and rolling meadows, the slumbering farm fields and the sap buckets hanging from bare maple trees, I wish I’d brought my camera along.

maple

 

Suddenly, as if by magic, it feels like I’ve stepped into a postcard.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

The Road (Not) Taken

On July 12, 1979, at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, between games of a twi-night doubleheader, there was a disco explosion.  Literally.  In game one, the Detroit Tigers defeated the Chicago White Sox, 4–1.  There would be no second game.  The reason?  A promotion that turned into a riot.

The White Sox were slogging through the 1979 season, mired in mediocrity.  Attendance was spotty, and the team was going nowhere fast.  Hoping to inject some interest, the Sox teamed up with local radio personality Steve Dahl.  Why not have a hate-on-disco night?  Why not cart thousands of disco records out onto the field between games of the doubleheader and then–explode them!  And so–Disco Demolition Night was born.  It all sounded good to the promoters.  But then things got out of control.

When the button was pushed, and the disco discs were blasted into bits, waves of fans stormed the field.  A riot broke out, and, due to the explosion and fans, the playing field was damaged, forcing the White Sox to forfeit the second game of the doubleheader.

disco1

 

disco2

 

disco4

 

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To this day, Disco Demolition Night remains one of the most ridiculed and notorious  baseball promotions of all time.  It also is sometimes referred to as “the day that disco died.”  Days after the demolition, on July 21, 1979, the top six songs on U.S. music charts were disco.  Just two months later, by the end of September, not one disco song was listed in the top ten.

What happened?  How could something so enormously popular one minute become so mocked and dissed just a short while later?  As the 1970s flickered and died, so, too, did disco.  I remember, growing up in the ’80s, how my two older brothers and their friends would mock the disco craze of their younger years.

discofun

 

Disco was, essentially, a fad.  It had no staying power, no ability to transcend its generation.  There are still some who enjoy it, and think fondly back to its heyday, and there has even been something of a disco revival among fans.  But, culturally speaking, it enjoyed its proverbial fifteen minutes of fame.  And that was all.

discoball

 

This brings another question to the forefront.  Are things so different with writing?  Certainly there are fads in the literary world, as well.  Trends.  “Hot” topics and genres.  The Twilight series caused an explosion in young adult vampire fiction.  The Hunger Games and its sequels have initiated a surge in dystopian story lines.  Is this a trap writers should avoid?  Is it a mistake to ride the coattails of Stephenie Meyer and Suzanne Collins, as well as the other best-selling novelists who determine the trends of the industry?

Perhaps it’s better to go in a different direction.  Maybe it’s wiser to write about other things, to explore the realms that are not “hot” today, but may be tomorrow.  Maybe we can be the trend-setters.

Robert Frost famously wrote:

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–

I took the one less traveled by.

And that has made all the difference.”

roadnottakenbetter

 

Granted, these lines are taken slightly out of context, used in isolation here.  But the idea is still worth thinking about.  Is it better to travel the untrodden path?  Or the popular one?  Is it better to write what’s “hot”?  Or to deliberately go against it?

I would argue both are valid, and both are misguided.  Because, whether you write about something that’s in vogue or about something that’s currently standing far removed from the crowd, the end result won’t be worth reading unless it’s your story.  You can write about sultry, beautiful vampires with a mysterious and unknowable backstory.  You can write about flesh-eating zombies that create havoc in a world reeling from their takeover.  You can write about erotic red rooms of pain.  Something is not artistically “less than” simply because it fits in with contemporary popular culture and trends.  If you approach the story with your own ideas, and if you write it because you feel like you’ll burst if you don’t get it down on the page–then it’s a valid, original piece of work.  Likewise, if you decide to write the “anti-vampire” story just to prove a point, just to throw dirt in the eye of popular culture, such a work is not really your own.  It’s merely a forced attempt to go against the grain, to be contrary for contrary’s sake.

We each have a unique and layered perception of the world.  Shaped by our experiences, which in turn are distilled and perceived through our personalities, bents, idiosyncrasies, passions, desires, fears and dreams, we each have a story to tell that is uniquely our own.

I wrote The Eye-Dancers because I felt driven to write it.  The initial idea formed after a dream I had more than twenty years ago.  I dreamed of the “ghost girl” who haunts the dreams of Mitchell and Joe and Ryan.  I dreamed of her, wraith-like, frightening, yet unable to be ignored, and I knew I had to write about her.  For years, I didn’t know how or where to put her into a story–until I dreamed of her again more than a decade and a half later.  This time, when I woke up, the genesis of The Eye-Dancers was in place.  Immediately, I began writing it.  There is nothing like that epiphany, that moment when an idea hits, unasked for, unplanned, and you just know you have a story to tell.  It is a high like no other.

And so I wrote.  I wrote about the ghost girl, yes.  But I also wrote about childhood, and the four main characters in the story are inspired by friends I knew growing up.  We used to talk about things, wonder aloud what’s “out there.”  We’d ask questions like, What if this world, this earth we know and live on, is just one of many earths?  What if we each have doubles, triples, an infinite number of “selves” in other, parallel universes?  And what if there existed a connection so strong between two people, two strangers, that, even a universe apart, they were somehow able to communicate?  Questions like these, the kinds of things I’ve always been fascinated by, drove the story of The Eye-Dancers.  And the relationships I shared with my childhood friends served as the heart-engine of the novel.

Maybe The Eye-Dancers is a good story, well told.  Or–maybe it’s full of shortcomings and faults.  Perhaps it’s a little of both.  Ultimately, that’s not my call to make.  I leave that to you.  But what I can say is this–it is my story, something I felt compelled to write, and driven to complete, even on those days when the narrative seemed to bog down or the characters didn’t want to cooperate.

In the end, that’s about all we can do.  Write the things that matter to us as individuals.  Sometimes these topics, themes, and passions yell and kick, demanding to be let free onto the page.  Other times, they are hidden, like fragments tucked away in a secret corner of the heart.  Either way, cultivate them.  Listen to them.  Share them.  They are yours.

A paradox, perhaps.  But a truth nonetheless . . .

When you write for yourself, you write for us all.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Short Story — “The Hitchhiker”

Have you ever felt inexplicably called to do something, even when you can’t figure out why, and even when it flies in the face of logic and common sense?  Certainly Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, and Ryan Swinton have.  In The Eye-Dancers, in the recurring dream they share with one another, they feel compelled to look into the “ghost girl’s” eyes, unable to avoid them.  She has an almost magical, hypnotic force about her, and the boys cannot fight it, no matter how much they might want to.

Likewise, in the short story “The Hitchhiker,” which I wrote while in the middle of working on The Eye-Dancers, the protagonist feels compelled to pick up a hitchhiker he sees walking along a country road in western New York State on a cold, dark November evening.  He doesn’t know why he feels he must give this stranger a ride.  He just knows, instinctively, it’s something he has to do. . . .

I hope you enjoy the story.

novemberroad

hitch

november2

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“The Hitchhiker”

Copyright 2013 by Michael S. Fedison

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It had been nearly twenty years since he’d left, but now, coming back, Kyle’s memories felt so near, close enough to touch.  He wished it weren’t so.  Some memories, some people, were better left in the blurry, distant past.

The road leading out to the college was also much the way Kyle remembered it.  The hills came and went, like a gentle roller-coaster ride, as the road passed through a handful of small towns, with their old brick storefronts and well-kept, tidy main streets.  It rolled through the countryside, past farms with yellowed, desiccated corn stalks and Holsteins grazing contentedly on the still-green grasses.  It wound through stretches of woodlands, the bare branches of the trees blending in with the early evening gloom, gray on gray, faded brown on dull slate.

“Welcome home,” he said, as he cruised along in his rented Subaru.  “About the kind of reception I’d expect from this place.”  But then, how did he think it would be?  Warm and sunny?  This was western New York State in mid-November, after all.  For years, his alma mater had asked him to come back, give a presentation.  He’d always refused, but this year he accepted.  Now he wondered why he hadn’t decided to come in the spring, when—

There was a man walking backwards along the shoulder of the road, arm extended, thumb up.  He wore a black hooded sweat jacket, and carried a duffel bag.  Odd.  Why would someone be hitchhiking at this hour, in this chill?  In just a few minutes, it would be dark.

He passed the guy, still not getting a clear look at him.  All he could see was the arm flop back to the man’s side.

“Sorry, buddy,” he said, glancing back in his rearview mirror.  “But you know how it is.”

He drove on, his rental car effortlessly conquering the miles.  He glanced at the digital clock on the dashboard.  Four-thirty.  No wonder he felt hungry.  He hadn’t eaten since breakfast—and that had been breakfast on London time.  He would stop for a bite to eat at the first diner or fast-food place he saw.  And he knew from memory, there were plenty of both along the route to the college.

Sure enough, a place called Shirl’s Diner came up on the right.  He’d never heard of it, but it would do.

“Hope their food’s all right,” he said, as he pulled into the parking lot.  A dozen other cars were parked out front.  “Wouldn’t want to come down with food poisoning the day before my speech.”

He smiled.  Still talking to himself—that was a habit he’d never been able to shake.  He remembered how Renee had caught him doing that several times, rambling about a homework assignment, the Mets’ chances at making the postseason, a short story he was plotting, or, most embarrassing of all, his growing fondness for her.

“Well, I’m flattered,” she’d told him one time after walking in on one of his monologues.  He’d been saying how beautiful her eyes were, how much he liked to look at them, at her.  “But you know, you might have told me directly.”  She smiled then, and hugged him, and it felt so good.  So good.

“Stuff it,” he said, getting out of his rental, pressing the automatic Lock button on the handheld remote.  Thinking about Renee again.  That’s the last thing he needed.  She was a part of his past, the past he’d escaped—the stifling small-town life, the provincial narrow-mindedness, the ignorance.  He’d visited New York City, Boston, Philadelphia, Paris, Berlin, before completing his MFA in London, and settling down there.  He’d met brilliant professors, talented writers, intellectual giants.  He’d brushed away the residue of his childhood home.  It was the best decision he’d ever made.

He went inside, heading right for the counter.  Three men sat there, scattered, no one sitting next to anyone else.  He followed suit, finding a stool three removed from the closest patron.  From a radio behind the counter, a Country singer he didn’t know whined about losing his job and his girl.  Off to the left, a few other people sat in booths, couples mostly, talking with each other, eating the burgers, fries, and greasy fried chicken that evidently was the staple of Shirl’s Diner.

“What can I get ya?” a middle-aged blonde woman with cigarette breath asked him.  She had bags under her eyes, and her forehead was wet with perspiration.

“I’ll have a cheeseburger, well done, and a side order of fries,” he said.  He hadn’t had a burger in months.  It sounded good.

“K,” she said.  “That’ll be just a few minutes, hun.”  She rang him up, then vanished momentarily through an open doorway that led to the kitchen.  Kyle could see her telling something to the cook, an overweight guy with a bald head and a goatee.

He glanced back at the booths again.  One couple in particular caught his interest.  They were young, probably college undergrads, and they looked so happy with each other, so comfortable, so alive.  They even held hands across the tabletop as they ate.  He saw them share their food, letting each other sample what the other had ordered.  At one point, the girl leaned across the table and kissed the guy, then sat back down, a flush on her face.

She made him think again of Renee, of the times he’d shared with her, the way her nearness always had such an effect on him, the way her laughter always made him feel as if he were soaring.

He shook his head.  Why was he thinking so much of Renee?  Maybe it was because he’d returned home, the place where they’d met, loved, and ultimately bid each other farewell.  Well, he had done that.  He explained to her that he had to leave, had to see the world, cultivate the talent he’d been born with.  He was destined to be a writer, he told her.  Writing was his first love.  Besides, it wasn’t as if he had any close family.  His mom had run out on Dad and him when he was just a kid, and Dad died a few years later in an automobile accident.  He had no brothers, no sisters.  There was nothing to hold him here.  Couldn’t she understand?  If she would agree to travel abroad with him, to relocate . . . but she wouldn’t.  She said he could be a writer right here, in western New York.  He didn’t need to go to Europe.  He told her she was naïve, and left her in tears.

It was the right thing to do, the only thing he could do.  Better to sever the strings than leave her hanging, waiting for a change of heart that wouldn’t come.  And when he would sometimes think of her in the years since, lying in his bed alone at night, lingering under the massage of a hot shower, during those moments, when her face, the one she had years ago, young, unlined, a fresh canvas upon which the passage of time, the pain of experience had yet to carve their testimonials, came to him, he would tell himself that he didn’t miss her, didn’t long to be with her, didn’t wish for the warmth and closeness of her embrace.  He of course had his share of flings with London women, but none of them had ever evolved into anything serious.  Perhaps because no one else could replace Renee.  Or perhaps because he was just too busy, and didn’t have time to pursue a serious relationship.  That’s what he liked to tell himself, anyway.

“There you go, hun,” the waitress said, breaking his train of thought.  It was a welcome interruption.  What was the matter with him, anyway?  It was as if coming back to his roots had reawakened his old feelings, sending an electrical charge through them.  Had Renee ever moved away?  Or was she, as he sat here now, within a mere few miles of him?

“Makes no difference,” he said, taking a bite out of his burger.  It was greasy, but thick, a mouthful of meat.  Delicious.  “Imagine that.  Still like the cheap stuff.”  He preferred to believe that he’d changed over the years, improved himself.  Maybe he hadn’t.

He glanced back at the love-struck couple.  They still held hands, still gazed in each other’s eyes.  He wondered if the guy would one day tell her he had to leave, to make it big somewhere else.  He wondered if she’d go with him, or stay behind and cry.

He blinked, looked away.  This was too much.  He should just wolf down his food and get out of here, make the drive out to the college, check in to the hotel they had booked for him.  Look over his notes for the presentation he would give tomorrow evening—telling the audience how writing is a passion.  If it’s in you, it has to come first, or else you’ll never make it.  Yes.  That’s what he needed to do—think of his work, his career, perhaps even write a few more pages on the novel he was crafting.  Something to get his mind off of the past.  Off of Renee.

He finished his meal in a hurry, then left.  Back outside, the last lusterless drop of daylight was bleeding away, as though being sucked into the low-lying clouds, which hung over the landscape like dirty laundry.

Hopping into his rental car, he switched on the ignition, and cranked up the heat.  Living in London for years now, he was used to the chill.  But somehow the cold here in upstate New York seemed to penetrate more.  Or maybe it was something else that caused him to shiver.  He couldn’t know for sure, didn’t want to.

Back on the road, he accelerated to sixty-five, ten miles per hour beyond the limit.  Surely no cop would care, there was virtually no traffic out here.  The biggest problem he had was relearning to drive on the right side of the road.  It was ironic, really.  For months, in England, he had all the rules of the road in reverse—sometimes he worried that he’d never get the hang of it.  Now, it turned out, he’d gotten the hang of it too well.  He had to fight the impulse of swerving past the yellow line, into the other lane.  He laughed.  That wouldn’t be a good idea.

“Nope,” he said, considering whether or not he should turn on the radio or drive in silence.  He normally liked the silence—he was able to come up with story ideas, ponder character motivation, enjoy the faint echo of his thoughts.  But this evening, with his mind taking him places he didn’t want to go, perhaps it would be better to turn on some noise, listen to some local talk-show host jabbering in that nasal western New York twang he’d fought so hard to get rid of in the years since leaving.

He reached for the dial, then stopped.  Up ahead, arm extended, thumb up, walking backwards along the shoulder of the road was the same guy he’d seen earlier.  That was strange.  He’d passed this guy over ten miles ago.  He’d been in the diner no more than a half hour.  How could the guy have gotten ahead of him in such a short span of time?

Unless someone picked him up back there.  Yes.  That must have been it.  But why would someone pick him up only to drop him off a few short miles down the road?

He was nearly beside him now, but still couldn’t get a good look at the man’s face.  The hooded sweat jacket, coupled with the near-darkness, concealed his features.  He might be a maniac for all Kyle knew, a madman with a collection of hunting knives in his duffel bag.  Then again, if someone had just picked him up, maybe he was harmless.  And it was a chilly evening.  And he was driving in the same direction the guy was headed. . . .

He was surprised as he slowed down, then came to a stop a few feet ahead of the hooded man.  He had never picked up a hitchhiker in his life, and never thought he would.  It was a foolish, dangerous thing to do, especially on a country road like this, in the November dark, with barely any traffic around.  And yet, something inside him seemed to urge him, tug at him, telling him to stop.  Besides, there was a town just a couple of miles ahead.  Surely he would reach it in time if the guy tried anything.

Before he could second-guess himself and pull away, the passenger-side door opened, and the hooded figure hopped in.

“Thanks,” he said.  “Gonna be a cold night.”  Then he shut the door, buckled himself in.

Kyle rubbed his chin with the palm of his hand.  This wasn’t the normal way it went, was it?  Wasn’t the hitchhiker supposed to ask the driver where he was headed, or vice versa?  Wasn’t the hitchhiker supposed to look the driver in the eye, so the two of them could examine each other and decide whether or not they wanted to take the risk?  As it was, he still had no clue about this guy—not where he wanted to go, not his name, not even what he looked like.  The overhead light in the car wasn’t working, and the man still had his hood up.  For all Kyle knew, the guy seated next to him might have a scar raging along the entire length of his cheek.  He might be wearing earrings or a necklace.  He might have a head full of wavy hair, or be completely bald.  There was no way to tell.

He decided to just go with it.  That feeling inside him, the instinct, if you wanted to call it that, which had made him pull over in the first place still urged him to drive this guy along.

“I’m headed for the college,” he said.  “Well, not exactly.  Not tonight, anyway.  I’m giving a presentation there tomorrow.  Tonight I head for the hotel on the other side of town.  So, that’s as far as I can take you.”

Against his better judgment, perhaps, but still believing it was something he was supposed to do for some reason, Kyle pulled back out into the road.

“That’s perfect,” the guy said.  “I’m a student at the college.”  That wasn’t surprising.  He did sound young.  Still, what had he been doing, wandering along the roadside in the dusk?  “Oh, just thinking, I guess,” the hitchhiker said when Kyle asked, as if that explained why he was more than ten miles from the campus without any transportation.

They drove along in silence, passing through the next town in less than a minute, then finding themselves back out in open country again.  A deer suddenly darted in front of the Subaru, but Kyle braked in time.

“Dumb deer,” he said, watching the animal disappear into the yawning mouth of the night.  “I’m not used to them jumping out in front of you like that anymore.  Nothing bolts out in front of you in London except people.”

“You live in London?” the hitchhiker said.

“For seventeen years now,” Kyle said.  He glanced at the young man beside him, still unable to see anything save for the side of his hood.  Even so, there was something about him.  Something . . .

“You know, I sometimes think I wanna go live somewhere else, too,” the young man said.  “I mean, I want to learn, to experience things, you know?  But I don’t know.  I mean, I’m not sure if I want to move away or not.”

They passed a green road sign with fluorescent white letters, telling them that the college was six miles ahead.

“Well, I couldn’t encourage you enough to shake the dust of this area off your shoes,” Kyle said.  “I grew up here, went to college here.  That’s why they want me to give a talk tomorrow night.  I’m a writer.  And they want me to talk about how to succeed, how to define your dreams and then reach for them.  Maybe you can attend.”

The hitchhiker just sat there, glancing out the window at the dark fields, the impenetrable shadows of the nighttime woods, the occasional farmhouse with its trusty porch light on, cutting a swath of brightness through the murk.

“I want to be a writer, too,” the hitchhiker said, still looking out the window.  “And I know there’s a lot I can learn by seeing the world.  I just had a professor talk to me about that the other day.  It’s just . . .”

“Family?” Kyle asked.  That was the reason Renee gave him.  She wouldn’t leave her mom, her dad, her brother.  She couldn’t.

The hitchhiker just shook his head, as they drove on, nearing the college.  It didn’t take a genius to figure out what was preying on his mind.  He must have a girlfriend.  What was it with these kids?  Couldn’t they understand that the relationships you share when you’re twenty rarely last?  Couldn’t they look beyond the narrow confines of the present and appreciate tomorrow?  He suddenly felt angry.  How many great writers had never been published?  How many literary masterpieces had never been written, because their would-be authors gave up too soon or failed to dedicate themselves to their calling?  How much wasted talent existed, littering the earth like the confetti of a million unrealized dreams?

“Don’t waste your skills,” Kyle said then.  “I’ve never seen your work, but you must know if you’re any good.  If you are, don’t let anyone hold you back.  When I was your age, I had a choice to make.  Stay here, maybe settle down, have a steady job, a family.  Or come to terms with the fact that I had a gift, a responsibility to use that gift, to give it back to the world.  I chose the latter.”  He paused, amused, realizing he had pronounced the word “latter” like a born-and-bred Englishman.  “If you give up now,” he went on, “you’ll never know.  You’ll never know if you might have made it.  That’s a tough way to live, if you ask me.”

The hitchhiker offered no response.  He just continued to glance out the window, then looked down at his lap.  Kyle hoped his words were getting through.

Yeah, tell him to live like you.  Tell him to give up on the things that really matter.  You’re blowing it with this kid, and you know it.  You’d give your right arm to do it over again, to marry Renee, spend your life with her.  Coming back here, to this place, you know that now, don’t you?

“Shut up,” he said, and the hitchhiker glanced at him quickly, then turned away.  “I wasn’t talking to you,” he said, feeling a touch of warmth on his cheeks.  “Sometimes my mind doesn’t want to shut up, that’s all.”

The hitchhiker nodded.  “I know what you mean.”

They were in the town now, and Kyle could see the campus lights straight ahead.  He pulled in to the main parking lot, trying to quell the longing he felt.  How many times had he walked along the pathways and lawns of this campus with Renee beside him, their hands clasped, their fingers intertwined?  How many times had he kissed her, held her, stayed up late and studied with her, shared secrets with her that he wouldn’t tell anyone else, and never had in the years since?

He felt an urge to tell himself to shut up again, but he didn’t.

The hitchhiker opened the passenger door, ready to get out.  Kyle still hadn’t gotten a good look at him.  But what did it matter?  “Thanks for the lift,” he said.  “And the advice.”

Kyle nodded.  “She . . . she must be a special girl, I bet,” he said.

“Yeah.”  The young man shifted in his seat.  “Yeah, Renee’s the best.”  And then he got out, gently shutting the door behind him.  There was a sadness in his gait as he walked away.

Kyle blinked, took a deep breath.  It all came clear to him now—why he felt such a need to stop, to pick up this particular hitchhiker.  No.  That was the only word his mind could construct.  The writer, the wordsmith—all he could think was, No.

“Wait!” he yelled, but the hooded figure of the boy, of the young man, was gone now.  Gone.  And Kyle knew that he would never return.

“Wait,” he said, softly.  “Please.  Please wait . . . ”

****************

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Two New Blogging Awards, and a Very Sincere Thank-You!

When I began The Eye-Dancers website last summer, I really had no idea what would come of it.  I had written The Eye-Dancers the novel, and was hoping to use the website as a way of “getting the word out there.”  I didn’t have that many other plans or ideas for the site at that time.  But as I began to post, at first infrequently, I realized–this is fun!  And as more and more fellow bloggers began to follow and comment on the posts, I also realized–this is very rewarding!

I won’t lie.  I still am hoping this little website will encourage people to read the novel The Eye-Dancers!  Like most writers, I suppose, I want the things I write to be widely read, and, with luck, enjoyed.  But I have learned, over the journey of these past few months, that simply posting on this site, interacting with all of you, exchanging thoughts and ideas, is wonderful in and of itself.

So, first and foremost, thanks so much to all of you.  You’re the reason I’m still here, posting away.  I truly enjoy your feedback and also enjoy checking out your great blogs, too.  I was a blogging neophyte when I started The Eye-Dancers site.  It has been a fabulous and fun journey so far, and I certainly look forward to what lies ahead.  The fun, I hope, has only just begun.

I’ve been very fortunate to have been nominated for two new blogging awards–The Shine On Award, and The Versatile Blogger Award.

I also was nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award recently, as well.  I was lucky enough to have been nominated for that award already, however–late in 2012.  But I wanted to thank The Kat and The Falling Leaves for this most recent nomination for this great award!  I really appreciate it!

In addition, Jae nominated me for The Liebster Award, but I already had received that award, too.  Even so, I wanted to thank Jae here, and I encourage everyone to check out both The Kat’s and Jae’s great sites!

***********************

For The Shine On Award, I would like to thank Tuttacronaca for the nomination.  It is an honor to receive recognition from such a wonderful website.  Thanks so much!

Shine_On

The Shine On Award requires you to nominate 15 other blogs, who in turn can post this award on their own sites and nominate others for the award.  It also requires that you then list a few other blogs that tickle your fancy.  So, without further delay, my 15 nominations for The Shine On Award are . . .

http://scribelifegames.wordpress.com/

http://joseyphina.wordpress.com/

http://lolarugula.com/

http://jenniferpaetsch.com/

http://fiammisday.com/

http://maryamchahine.wordpress.com/

http://readinpleasure.wordpress.com/

http://ramblingsofabipolarwoman.wordpress.com/

http://aboutaddisababa.wordpress.com/

http://wordsfallfrommyeyes.wordpress.com/

http://suedreamwalker.wordpress.com/

http://johnwhowell.com/

http://theseeker57.wordpress.com/

http://stylesalvation.wordpress.com/

http://worldsbeforethedoor.wordpress.com/

I highly recommend brewing a nice warm cup of tea and spending some time in all of the above sites.  They are as intriguing as they are diverse.

And now, here are seven other blogs that, per Shine On Award terminology, “tickle my fancy.”  In other words, I really like them!  And I’m sure you will, too . . .

http://smallpiecesoflife.wordpress.com/

http://worldviastandby.wordpress.com/

http://martaperegrina.wordpress.com/

http://charmsofagypsy.wordpress.com/

http://lovemen.org/

http://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/

http://jasmindamaro.wordpress.com/

Thanks again to Tuttacronaca for the nomination!

**********************

The second award is the Versatile Blogger Award.  I want to thank both Pondering Spawned and Tazein at the Transcending Borders Blog for nominating The Eye-Dancers for this award!

The rules for this award are as follows:

Rules of the Versatile Blogger Award:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Thank and Link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 bloggers for this award.
5. Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific posts so that they get notified by ping back.

Here are the seven things about myself! . . .

1.  As a kid growing up in the 1980s, my first-ever home computer was a Commodore 64.  Compared to the digital world we’re in now, this thing was, well, ancient!  But I have to say, of all the PCs I’ve used in my life, this one was the most fun.  It’s true, I used it back then mostly to play video games–old classics like Jumpman and Pitfall, with simple, and by today’s standards, laughable graphics.  But they were addictive!  I don’t remember what became of that old Commodore.  But it was a part of my childhood, and I’ll never forget it.

commodore

 

2.  If I had to choose my favorite sci-fi movie of all time, well–it isn’t easy.  There have been some great ones over the decades.  But, to me, the one that stands out above all others is Aliens.  This 1986 tour de force features Sigourney Weaver in the magnificent role of Ellen Ripley, and, despite the film’s length, it speeds along like a runaway train.

alliens

 

Great characters and unforgettable action mark this sci-fi triumph.  And it has one of my favorite dialogue exchanges in movie history.

When the crew learns they’re stranded for at least seventeen days on the world infiltrated by the aliens, Private Hudson replies:  “Seventeen days?  Hey, man, I don’t wanna rain on your parade, but we’re not gonna last seventeen hours!”   And when Ripley informs him that the little girl they rescued has been surviving much longer than that without any weapons or any training, Hudson says, in a whiny voice,  “Why don’t you put her in charge?”

Classic.

alienssigourney

 

3.  Vermont, where I live, actually has five seasons.  No, really.  Winter, spring, summer, and fall, of course.  But March really stands alone as its own season.  Mud Season we call it around here.  This picture of the dirt road I live on tells it all . . .

Vermont mud, March 14th (2)

 

4.  Dolls scare me.  Puppets, too.  Anything inanimate like that, I find creepy.  The stories and movies that give me the worst nightmares tend to involve killer dolls and the like.  Perhaps this stems from an experience I had when I was about twelve.  I went into the basement.  For some reason, there was a doll hanging from the clothesline my mother used in the basement to dry clothes in winter.  I don’t recall whose doll it was, or why it was even there that day.  The doll had blonde hair, blue eyes, and wore a long, white dress.  I can visualize her perfectly to this day.  I felt oddly unsettled as I approached her.  And when I did, she . . . blinked at me!  Was it a trick of the light?  My overactive imagination?  Maybe.  But I turned around, and ran up the stairs at Gold Medal speed just the same.

doll

5.  For me, the three funniest characters in television history are, in order:

A. Ed Norton from The Honeymooners

norton

Cliff Clavin from Cheers

cliffclavin

And Coach Cutlip from The Wonder Years

cutlip

 

6. While Mitchell Brant is the character from The Eye-Dancers I can relate to the most, Marc Kuslanski may have been the most fun to write about.  I have always had a soft spot for science geeks and know-it-alls.  Joe Marma, who sarcastically calls Marc “Einstein” throughout the novel, would say otherwise, I’m sure.

einstein

 

7.  As readers of this blog probably know by now, I am a lifelong comic book collector.  And, like any comic collecting geek, I have a list of my all-time favorite covers in my collection.  Here are a few of them.

SA150

 

mis50

 

ff49

 

st93

 

hos92

 

Now I’d like to pass this award on to the following bloggers:

http://carmenisabelgonzalez.wordpress.com/

http://maxadaland.wordpress.com/

http://2embracethelight.wordpress.com/

http://honeydidyouseethat.wordpress.com/

http://booksboozeandbeauty.wordpress.com/

http://acflory.wordpress.com/

http://idealisticrebel.wordpress.com/

http://roryta.wordpress.com/

http://iamawriterdangit.wordpress.com/

http://readinginterrupted.com/

http://1800ukillme.wordpress.com/

http://garapentrudoi.wordpress.com/

http://nancyloderick.com/

http://sandibentonvengeance.wordpress.com/

http://geminigirlinarandomworld.com/

All fifteen of the blogs above are highly recommended.  Another cup of tea, perhaps, as you browse through and enjoy?

Thanks again to Pondering Spawned and Tazein for this great nomination!

******************

And thank you very much to all of you, everyone who stops in to The Eye-Dancers site from time to time to pay a visit.  You’re the ones who make this so enjoyable and worthwhile for me.

I thank you very warmly for reading!

–Mike

Interlude of Silence

As the summer of 1975 approached, the world waited for Jaws.

jaws

 

Of course today, Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece–based on the novel of the same name by Peter Benchley–is widely considered one of the greatest movies of all time.  The suspense, characters, and drama of Jaws definitely place it in cinema’s upper echelon.  The build-up to the premiere was intense, more than anything the world had seen before.  In many ways, with its advertising blitz and lead-up, Jaws set in motion the Hollywood phenomenon of the mega summer blockbuster that we still see today.  And it delivered in a big way, becoming the highest-grossing movie of all time up until that point.  But what made it so popular?  What aspect of Jaws riveted audiences worldwide?  What, in short, propelled it into an instant classic?

Clearly, there are many strengths to the film, not just one.  But one of the reasons  it works so well is, oddly enough, the absence of the shark during the first two-thirds of the movie.  There are attacks, of course.  Swimmers are torn apart more than once.  But we don’t actually see the shark until the climactic hunt. when Chief Brody, Quint, and Hooper head out and try to find it and kill it.  One explanation for this is purely practical–Spielberg and his crew struggled mightily with the mechanical shark they employed to play the part of the Great White.  It malfunctioned on a daily basis.  Therefore–the less screen time for the problematic shark, the better.  But it was more than that . . .

In the opening sequence of the film, one of the most famous scenes in movie history, a young woman, Chrissie Watkins, decides to take a swim in the ocean, shedding her clothes as she runs along the beach, a young drunk guy trying, and failing, to keep up with her.  When she plunges into the water, she is alone.  Her friend has all but passed out on the beach.

jawsrunning

 

At first, everything is tranquil, idyllic, even.  Chrissie Watkins swims out a few hundred feet, enjoying the water, the freedom, the lack of crowds.  It is late in the day, the sun sinking low in the sky, partially hidden behind thick, billowy clouds.  A beautiful evening for a swim . . .

jawspeace

 

That’s when the camera submerges, and we see her legs kicking beneath the surface of the water.  And that’s when John Williams’ famous Jaws theme begins to play . . .

jawsunder

 

As an audience, we know something is coming.  We even know it’s probably the shark.  But questions abound.  Is it the shark?  Or another one?  If it is Jaws, how large is the shark?  What does it look like, exactly?  When will it strike?

Years later, reflecting on the scene, Steven Spielberg said he deliberately withheld the shark from the audience here.  While he acknowledges showing the shark could have made for a great scene, he points out that by doing so, the opening sequence would have been relegated to just another monster attack.  And we have all witnessed monster scenes at the movies.  Spielberg wanted something different, more primal.  By not showing the Great White, the audience is left imagining it–or blocking it out entirely.  The absence of the “monster,” in effect, creates a much more terrifying, memorable, and powerful scene.

It’s hard for me not to relate this principle to The Eye-Dancers, in particular, and writing in general.   When I finished the first draft of The Eye-Dancers, the word count was a whopping 119,000.  After doing a round of edits, that dropped to 105,000.  But it still wasn’t completed.  More rounds of snipping and pruning followed, and the word count now stands at a shade over 95,000.  Still a good-sized novel, but nowhere near as long as it had been initially.

It’s true, there are fewer jokes told by Ryan Swinton in the final draft than there were in the initial one.  There might not be quite as many examples of Mitchell Brant‘s tall tales now than there were originally.  Maybe one or two of Marc Kuslanski‘s theories didn’t survive the editorial process, and maybe Joe Marma throws one less punch in the final draft.  But hopefully these deletions enhance what remains, and help to create a richer, better-told story.

So often, what’s not included on the printed (or digital, as the case may be!) page is just as essential, and sometimes more so, than what is actually there.  It is the empty gaps between words, the white space between scenes, the lines and paragraphs unspoken that add meaning, nuance, and texture to a story.  The silences speak volumes.

This is something Steven Spielberg knows very well.  Let us return to that opening scene of Jaws . . .

The musical score stops, abruptly, and we see Chrissie Watkins still enjoying her swim.  Then, she suddenly jerks, shutters, as something unseen grabs onto her from the murkiness below.  Her head disappears under the water.  When it appears again, she is gasping, screaming, her shrieks cutting through the darkening twilight as she is flung about by the force of whatever lurks beneath the surface.

jawsfling

 

“It hurts,” she screams.  “It hurts!”  Temporarily she finds refuge at a buoy, holding on, hoping the attack is over.

jawsescape

 

It isn’t.  The unseen monster returns, pulls her away, and she screams again.  Perhaps she clings to a faint hope that her friend on the beach will overhear, and come to her rescue.  But he is oblivious.

She flails at the water, desperate, fighting to escape.

jawsscream

 

But she can’t.  And as she is pulled under, she is still screaming . . .

The next moment, the echoes of her screams fall away, muted by the depths of the sea.  All is quiet now, all is still.  The brutality of the attack stands in horrific counterpoint to the serenity of the ocean at sunset.  The buoy’s bell tinkles softly, softly.  We hear the gentle murmur of the waves as their long, restless journey finally ceases along the sandy shore of the beach.  That is all.  Nothing else can be heard.

And yet–everything can be heard . . .

In the interlude of silence.

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Author Interview–Shannon A. Thompson

I started The Eye-Dancers website in late summer 2012.  Shortly after that, Shannon A. Thompson started her website, shannonathompson,com.  I remember it well because, at the time, I was not really sure where to go with The Eye-Dancers site, what kinds of things to post, and, really, how to go about blogging in general.  I had never attempted anything quite like this before.  When Shannon created her site, she came across mine and Liked a couple of the earliest posts on the site, and became one of the very first followers of The Eye-Dancers blog.  It is an honor and a privilege now to have the opportunity to interview her on The Eye-Dancers site.

I cannot recommend Shannon’s website highly enough.  I strongly encourage you to check it out.  It is full of all manner of engaging information, from reviews to anecdotes, from writing tips to encouraging and inspirational posts.  Shannon has had one novel published already–November Snow–and is about to publish another, Minutes Before Sunset.  In the interview that follows, I ask her about her writing, her novels, her number-one piece of advice for new writers, and her plans for the future.

So, without further delay, I hope you enjoy the interview . . .

1. Please tell us a little bit about your website.

My website is used to communicate with fellow writers, readers, and/or fans. My publications are available for purchasing, and I have the latest news on there, but I mainly use it as a blog—to give writing tips, publishing tips, book reviews, movie reviews, and just little bits about my life. My hope is to inspire others to follow their dreams and even support them while following my own.

2. You have a new Young Adult novel coming out soon—Minutes Before Sunset.  Tell us a little bit about that.  Can you give us a brief synopsis of the novel?

I can! My small synopsis is on my website:

“Minutes Before Sunset is a paranormal romance darkened by a hidden war between shades and lights. Told from two perspectives, one boy will discover the key to his kind’s survival, even if it means sacrificing the one he loves.”

But I have a longer one that I’m about to release 😀

3. When will Minutes Before Sunset be released?  Where will it be sold?

I’m hoping it will be ready to go by the end of April/beginning of May. I will announce that as soon as I know for sure, because I don’t want to announce it then have to change it. It will only be sold on NOOK or Kindle. I am currently working on a novel with a publisher, but I wanted to release Minutes Before Sunset myself to show another side of my work—other than the poetry and my novel that was published.

4. This isn’t your first novel.  You also wrote November Snow, which was published in 2007, when you were sixteen.  I think a lot of people would be impressed that you published a novel at such a young age.  What can you tell us about November Snow?

November Snow is my baby. It’s actually the second novel I attempted to write, but it was the first one I ever completed. I was fifteen when I finished it, and I started it at thirteen. It took a long time, but it means so much to me, because I wrote it as I was dealing with my mother’s death in 2003. What a lot of my readers today don’t know is that I took it off the market for a long time. From 2008 to 2012, it wasn’t available. I did this on purpose, because I was graduating from high school and adjusting to college life. I couldn’t manage it at seventeen—I was too busy figuring out HOW to manage, but now that I have, it’s back, and I’m excited to watch it grow again!

5. Six years have passed between the publication of your first novel and the release of Minutes Before Sunset.  Would you say that you have changed at all as a writer during that time?  If so, in what ways?

Oh my gosh, yes! I have changed so much. Other than being a more responsible individual, I have learned a lot of writing techniques I didn’t understand when I was sixteen. For instance, in November Snow I wrote from two perspectives—Daniel and Serena—but their voices didn’t seem much different; only the events did. Now, at twenty-one, I’ve written other novels by two perspectives, and I worked on their overall voices being different. When I was sixteen, I used adverbs a lot; now I know that’s not a great thing to do. I did a lot of “telling” with my “showing,” but I’ve learned to cut my “telling” out. Honestly, I could go on forever. As a writer, I’m constantly changing, and I think that’s the most exciting part about being a writer—discovering yourself as you discover your world.

6. On your website, you often provide tips and advice to writers, which is a wonderful feature.  But . . . if you could give one piece of advice, and one only, to a new or aspiring writer, what would that be?

Write with passion; succeed with self-discipline. This is my motto, and it keeps my writing moving every day.

7. You will graduate from the University of Kansas with a BA in English this spring.  What are your plans after that?

Unfortunately, after my roommate died, I had to cut down my hours this semester to cope, so I’m graduating in December now. But, ultimately, I feel like this was the right thing for me to do. My plans after school is work—but I have to admit that I have no plans beyond that. I’ve been very busy with Minutes Before Sunset, and, since I have another nine months, it gives me more time to search for jobs.

*************************

“At sixteen years old, Shannon A. Thompson became the published author of November Snow. At twenty-one, she was featured in Poems: a collection of works by twelve young Kansas poets. She’s lived in five states and moved over fifteen times, which she uses as inspiration for writing. Shannon dedicates all of her published works to lost loved ones, and she encourages everyone to find their passion.”

In addition to her website, you can find Shannon on Twitter  and on Facebook.

Thanks so much to Shannon for doing this interview, and thank you to everyone for reading!

–Mike

 

 

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